Image: Getty | Words: Danna Wills
1.07pm We’ve made it. After an epic poonami (Theo’s, not mine) on our way out the door, we’re finally clean and at Soft Play. It’s February. It’s Saturday. It’s raining. Let’s do this!
1.18pm Card machine at the leisure centre isn’t working. Have to use my car-park change to pay for Soft Play. That’s OK. I’ll deal with that later. Today I’m all about being Cool Chill Fun Mama!
1.21pm Theo and I strut into the Soft Play zone, ready for the best afternoon of our lives, yeah! The smell of BO and Slush Puppies hits me. My glasses immediately steam up in the sweaty fug. My ears ring with kids’ wailing and blaring Kiss FM… Tea will help. Tea ALWAYS helps.
1.22pm Tea machine broken. I pay £1.65 for a cup of warm orange squash instead. Mmm.
1.24pm We enter the Under-2 pen. Theo is bluddy loving it! We are making the best memories. Someone throws a shoe at my head.
1.34pm Someone (not me) has done a poo. I can smell it. We can all smell it. I’m pretty sure it’s Theo but the thought of battling a nappy in the leisure centre toilets doesn’t bear thinking about, so I just carry on tickling him and rolling about. This definitely won’t come back to haunt me.
1.37pm It came back to haunt me. New outfit required IMMEDIATELY. Right, come on Theo – let’s go change you…
1.59pm I don’t want to talk about it.
2pm A Paw Patrol-themed 5th birthday party has just started. A thousand children and their parents arrive. Brilliant.
2.03pm Rush to stop Theo smashing the birthday cake. He screams and thumps me in the neck. That’s OK, he’s understandably frustrated. Who doesn’t love cake?!
2.04pmRush to stop Theo smashing the birthday cake.
2.05pm Rush to stop Theo smashing the birthday cake.
2.06pm Rush to stop Theo smashing the– I’m too tired for this. Try to distract Theo with the ball pit.
2.12pm Yesss! He’s in ball-pit heaven! I jump up and down with him and throw balls in the air. Surely everyone can see what a Cool Chill Fun Mama I am! But wait, what’s this? The bigger birthday boys are coming… Help! They’re too aggressive! Stop jumping! Stop throwing! Can’t they read the sign?! “It’s for Under-2s!” I want to scream. SOMEBODY TELL THE CHILDREN! Breathe, I tell myself. Just be Cool Chill Fun Mama. A little girl sneezes in my face.
2.15pm Uh-oh. Just spotted Claire the perfect blah mum from Baby Sensory. God, I hope she doesn’t notice me. I cannot stand her or her blah child.
2.16pm She bloody saw me and walked straight past! Who does she think she is?! She won’t get away with this.
2.17pm Corner Claire by the vending machine. Am about to suggest a kids’ playdate when the Paw Patrol birthday mum comes over to inform me that Theo has smashed the birthday cake. Claire shakes her head sadly and walks away.
2.18pm We’re going home RIGHT NOW! Theo screams and rolls about on the floor as I gather our stuff. I spill orange squash all over my coat. All the parents stare at me. I realise too late that someone has stuffed a party sausage roll inside my shoe. HAHAHAHAHA! I laugh. IT’S OK! I’M COOL CHILL FUN MAMA! HAHAHA!
2.24pm Pull out of the car park. Remember I have no change. Will I ever leave this place?
2.25pm Spot Claire packing up her car. She lends me £3. She’s so lovely. I think she is my new best friend. I’ll pay her back at Baby Sensory or something.
2.52pm Home. Even though there’s still 4 hours till bedtime, I switch In The Night Garden on for Theo while I lie on the sofa in the dark with a damp tea towel on my head, chomping on a party sausage roll I found somewhere. We’re never going to Soft Play again…